Talons of the Eagle (aka Near Miss) is a comic-book story, published in TV Century 21 Issues 66-72, 23rd April-4th June 1966.
Thunderbirds 1 and 2 are returning from Africa, when they are spotted - and pursued - by a giant US Air Force plane called the Eagle. Back at Tracy Island, Jeff is determined to do what he must to safeguard International Rescue's secrecy and improve security. He intends to track down and destroy Eagle - a mission Virgil fears might create a disaster of its own. Miniature locator-cameras, launched from Thunderbird 5, trace Eagle's hidden nest: Base 27ZX. When the plane next takes off, Thunderbird 1 is waiting - and destroys its radio before moving in for the kill. Eagle crashes into the sea, but then begins to sink...along with its high-tech secrets, and its human flight crew...
Returning from Africa, Scott brings Thunderbird 1 home to Tracy Island - following the all-clear from Alan, in the Cliff House, and John, out in space aboard Thunderbird 5. All checks have been carried out of any activity within 200 miles of Tracy Island, to ensure International Rescue's base remains top-secret. TB1 lands safely, and Scott reports Virgil and Brains are an hour behind him in Thunderbird 2...
As TB2 approaches, the security protocols are repeated; and Virgil is also given the all-clear to land - but suddenly, Jeff hears the sound of an unfamiliar aircraft!
And Virgil, still in the air, spots it: screaming over Tracy Island is a large US Air Force aircraft called the Eagle, which takes up active pursuit of Thunderbird 2. Overshooting their base, Virgil tries to evade the interloper - but Eagle's much too fast for IR's giant transporter. Eagle's pilot orders TB2 to break radio silence - but Virgil won't compromise IR's secrecy. Jeff orders his son to try to outrun the aircraft, but to no avail. Virgil must use his one remaining option: firing TB2's emergency rocket units - but not before destroying the missiles launched from Eagle. Soon, Eagle is mercifully out of sight, but the damage is done...TB2, now out of fuel, is left stranded in space...
Back on Tracy Island, Jeff's fuming: how could Eagle have breached their security systems? From aboard the space-stranded TB2, Brains suggests that Eagle must be using advanced jamming equipment to avoid detection - but they're lacking information vital to devising a means to bypass it. And that leaves International Rescue with a very serious problem. Jeff tells Brains to think it over. Meanwhile, Alan and Gordon are reporting that search planes and ships - all registering on the island's scanners - are within their area, but all eventually depart...
Free to act once more, IR's first task is to retrieve TB2; and Alan and Scott set off in Thunderbird 3 to rendezvous with, and refuel, the stranded transporter in Earth orbit; and both craft are then able to return safely to base.
Brains explains the necessity of their obtaining the full details of Eagle's ominous jamming device, before he can attempt to build a counter-scanner. Knowing the Air Force won't willingly reveal their secrets, Jeff sets up a plan: first, find Eagle's base; and then, shoot the aircraft down...
Thunderbird 5 begins that search, as John launches tiny rockets from the space satellite - each of which contains a pre-programmed locator-camera. Avoiding tracking from Earth, the fleet of mini-missiles disperses and lands at each US Air Force base - and one camera's in the right place at the right time: a hangar rises from the runway at Base 272X, and Eagle emerges!
It's Thunderbird 1's turn next: once John reports his findings, Scott is quickly in the air to intercept Eagle in flight. As Thunderbird 2 prepares to follow him, Virgil isn't all that pleased about his father's plan as it might, in itself, create a disaster. And Jeff agrees - but it's the only way for them to maintain their secrecy...
With Virgil and Gordon aboard, Thunderbird 2 with Pod 4 sets off - releasing Thunderbird 4 into the ocean, on the way. Out ahead of them, Scott has found Eagle - whose crew now realizes they've being spotted! The quick-thinking TB1 pilot launches a low-yield missile to knock out Eagle's radio; unknown to Scott, though, this triggers an automatic distress call to Base 27ZX...
Eagle's crew decides to take care of TB1 on the spot, but Scott gets there first - sharp-shooting a missile destroying Eagle's tail unit, forcing it to lose altitude. Eagle crash-lands onto the sea...where Thunderbird 4 is waiting. As Virgil douses Eagle's flames with TB2, Gordon aims a gas-missile at its hull...
Donning diving-gear, Gordon boards Eagle, and finds the gas has done its work...rendering the crew unconscious. He also locates the jammer in the cabin, and sets to work photographing it for Brains. But Eagle is now beginning to sink beneath the waves! From aboard TB1, Scott calls in Virgil to use TB2's grabs; and presently, Eagle is raised from the ocean surface. An unlikely aerial procession forms up: TB1 leads the way to Mateo Island - IR's secret maintenance facility - some 60 miles from Tracy Island itself. Gordon returns to base with his all-importance jammer photos aboard Thunderbird 4...
Meanwhile, the tail-damaged Eagle - its crew still unconscious - is settled into position in a massive chamber within Mateo Island, where the Tracys undertake repairs to their would-be nemesis. Two days later, the job completed, they depart for home, where Brains has at last assembled his new counter-scanner...
But Eagle's crew knows nothing of any of this: they've awakened, to find themselves in a vast, empty, cave-like chamber, and their aircraft repaired and sound. And they leave Mateo Island, none the wiser. Elsewhere, though, there is much relief: International Rescue's secrets are safe, once again!
(In order of appearance)
- Scott Tracy
- Jeff Tracy
- Alan Tracy
- John Tracy
- Virgil Tracy
- Eagle Pilot
- Base 27ZX Control
- Gordon Tracy
- Eagle Co-Pilot
International Rescue Equipment Used Edit
- Thunderbird 1
- Thunderbird 2 (Pod 4)
- Thunderbird 3
- Thunderbird 4
- Thunderbird 5
- TB5's locator-camera mini-missiles
- Mateo Island IR facilities
- In-flight refueling gear for TB2 (delivered by TB3)
- This story follows on from the events of the TV21 story Mission To Africa.
- The Eagle is the same aircraft as the RTL-2 transporter aircraft featured in the episode The Cham-Cham.
- TB4 also "paralyzed" the crew of another craft - this time, a submerged minisub - in the episode The Man From MI.5.